Wednesday, April 23, 2014

On the BrickJournal Shared Calendars...

Over the years, we've written about and contributed to the BrickJournal Shared Calendars many times, going back to October 2008. We've had a link to their Google Calendars on our sidebar for years, and I was added to the list of people allowed to update these calendars in November 2008 (over time, I've granted myself access on other e-mail accounts).

I've decided (for a number of reasons, not all of which I'm comfortable sharing at this time) to withdraw my support of the shared calendars and remove our sidebar link, effective immediately. When I first got involved with the shared calendars, they were truly a shared project updated by a large pool of community-minded AFOLs (Adult Fans of LEGO). One of the main appeals was that there were many different layers, all of which had a variety of events on them. While I haven't added as many events in recent years as I used to, it appears that the majority of contributors have dropped off of it entirely. Several of the layers have become entirely useless, while the others are now updated so inconsistently that I can't comfortably recommend them anymore. Further, a look at who contributed the remaining upcoming events reveals very little variety in who still contributes: there are four people left, one of which added most of what's there. The second most active contributor (myself, with 3 upcoming events) lives in the same part of Florida as the most active one (but the two rarely speak). The other two contributors have added one event each. These sorts of community projects only work if they are actively maintained, but as it stands, it's too far gone for me to justify my further support.

The LEGO Displays layer appears to be almost entirely abandoned. I recently added LEGOPalooza, which has not been officially announced online yet, but is this weekend in Chapel Hill, North Carolina (full disclosure: I was previously NCLUG's "website guy", but between when I offered to announce the event and when I actually had the event's running time in-hand, someone else stepped up to "run" the website and simply removed all news). The only other upcoming events on it are Scouting for Bricks (May 3rd-4th in Leesburg, VA, although the calendar incorrectly lists the 5th as well), and "Kärleksmisär", which is on August 30th but the calendar doesn't give any clue as to where that is (a quick Google search doesn't clarify the situation).

The Events/Conventions layer appears to still be relatively maintained, albeit almost exclusively by one person. I've recently added BrickFiesta (Fourth of July weekend in Texas) and Bricks By the Bay (August 7th-10th in the San Francisco area).

The "Mindstorms and FLL Events", "Contests", and "Fan Club Meetings/Events" layers all seem to have been abandoned entirely.

I am not prepared to endorse any other calendars for LEGO events at this time, although we will continue sporadically announcing specific events on this blog.

Although we will not be advertising them anymore, you can still bookmark a link to the BrickJournal Shared Calendars.


Bricktales said...

It's too bad there's not a good calendar. At Classic-Castle we had a contest to create a 2014 calendar - the 12 winners' images were used for a calendar that people could by via an online publisher for $11 (absolute minimum cost, no profit to us, just a way to support the community and promote castle building in general). I spent a lot of time scouring the LEGOverse for dates and places of various cons and other events around the world, hoping that the calendar could be a good resource for the whole LEGO community. Then only about 17 calendars were sold (even though I advertised it all over). Really disappointing. I might run the contest again this year and produce a calendar, but I'm not going to go to the effort to bring together AFOL event dates to customize the calendar.

BTW, this thread at Classic-Castle has a lot of dates (the thread is a year old, so we're starting to get to the edges of the relevance of that thread).

CC Admin

Dan said...

That thread's not a bad resource either, but I see some similar issues creeping in there - the BrickFair events give dates for the public days, but BBTB has the AFOL days listed. Ideally we'd all work around some multi-layered calendar where AFOL times and public times are listed separately...

I get the impression that most of the paid-for projects in the community don't get too far. Unless you can get some support outside of builders and AFOLs (think of BrickJournal being sold in LEGO stores or BrickMania and the like selling to kids at events), you can't get too far.

We've also got to really simplify the process so we can keep a group of people involved. It seems like most of the calendars out there now were made the way you described - one or two people scours the web to try to catch everything they've heard of before and find out if it's happening this year. What we really need is people from around the world who regularly add on any event that they're involved in, with a link back to the event's website.

...which is actually another whole issue, since some events *cough* LEGOPalooza *cough* are considered "big" events but often aren't announced online until the last minute, if at all. It's hard to link to a page for more information when people think they can hide the info on a Facebook page or semi-private Google Calendar.